Archive for November, 2010

No Way Through

November 30, 2010

This chilling film shows what it would be like if London was occupied. An everyday occurrence for the people of Palestine under illegal Israeli occupation.

It could not though happen in the UK could it? Well it actually did, in Northern Ireland.

I was in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s at the height of the Hunger Strikes, Bobby Sands had just died in prison and Northern Ireland was a powder keg.

I remember seeing army patrols in the streets and being stopped at an army checkpoint. The driver gingerly wound down his window until it was half way down. The soldier rested his semi-automatic weapon on the window, barrel pointing at the chest of the driver, safety catch off, finger on the trigger, whilst the driver very slowly drew out his ID from an inside pocket. I was the only English person wandering the streets. The entire experience of my time there was very surreal.

John Pilger in Freedom Next Time describes what it is like to live under Israeli occupation. His film Palestine is Still the Issue generated huge amounts of hate mail from a Zionist hate organisation in the States. The Zionists forced an independent investigation into his film which showed that all what he had recorded was true.

Also see

Chris Patten visit to Gaza

Living under occupation

Palestine is still the Issue

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White

Apartheid in the Holy Land

Bethlehem Hidden from View

Picking olives under occupation

Nablus: The Business of Occupation

John Mayall and His Bluesbreakers – All Your Love

November 30, 2010

Berlin Gemany 1987 Coco Montoya and Walter Trout On Guitars.

I found this gem in The JazzGeek News in which yours truly just happened to be the No 1 top story!

I happened upon John Mayall in 1968. When everyone was playing pop, here was this amazing guy John Mayall playing. Where John Mayall led, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin followed.

Chris Patten visit to Gaza

November 30, 2010
meeting the press

meeting the press

Visiting Gaza for the first time since becoming President of Medical Aid for Palestinians, fomer Hong Kong Governor, EU Commisioner and Tory Party Grandee Chris Patten spoke to the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, and described Israel’s policy of blockading Gaza as a “terrible failure – immoral, illegal and ineffective”, which had “deliberately triggered an economic and social crisis which has many humanitarian consequences”.

Chris Patten said he found it “easier to get into a maximum security prison in the UK than to enter Gaza”.

Chris Patten had previously visited Gaza as EU Commissioner. One such trip was to provide Gaza with a runway, which the Israeli Defence Force destroyed.

The Siege of Gaza has nothing to do with security. It is collective punishment. It keeps the population of Gaza at near starvation level.


Chris Patten’s Trip to Gaza

Chris Patten urges bolder EU approach over Middle East conflict

“Put the Palestinians on a diet” – media bury documents revealing Israel’s deliberate policy of near-starvation for Gaza

Palestine is still the Issue

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White

Apartheid in the Holy Land

Bethlehem Hidden from View

Picking olives under occupation

Nablus: The Business of Occupation

No Way Through

BBC – Big Read – Top 100 Books

November 29, 2010

In April 2003 the BBC’s Big Read began the search for the nation’s best-loved novel, and we asked you to nominate your favourite books. — BBC

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

A werd mixed bag, but then is based on nominations.

Those in bold I have personally read.

Those in italics are either on my bookshelves (ie the floor) or I have heard dramatised on BBC Radio 4 as the Classic Serial or maybe I have read but not sure.

Where in doubt not sure if read I have marked in italics, though I have probably read.

Some will be surprised to find The Alchemist so far down the list, especially in light of the number of worlwide copies sold. But that is the clue, worldwide, Paulo Coelho is a writer well worth reading but virtually unknown in the UK.

List from BBC Big Read Top 100.

Memories and salt

November 29, 2010
palace in Madrid

palace in Madrid

I arrive in Madrid at eight o’clock in the morning. I will only be here a few hours, so it’s not worth phoning friends and arranging to see them. I decide to go for a walk alone in my favourite places, and I end up sitting smoking a cigarette on a bench in the Retiro Park.

‘You look miles away,’ says an old man, joining me on the bench.

‘Oh, I’m here,’ I say, ‘but I’m sitting on this same bench with a painter friend of mine, Anastasio Ranchal, 24 years ago in 1986. We are both watching my wife, Christina, who has had a bit too much to drink and is trying to dance the flamenco.’

‘Enjoy your memories,’ says the old man.

‘But don’t forget that memory is like salt: the right amount brings out the flavour in food, too much ruins it. If you live in the past all the time, you’ll find yourself with no present to remember.’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Daughter of Mossad Chief: I Refuse to Enlist in the Israeli Military

November 29, 2010

There are brave Israelis who refuse to serve in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. They are willing to defend their country, but not brutalise another people. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians does not only effect Palestinians, it brutalises Israeli society.


Combatants For Peace


Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Bat Shalom : women with a vision for a just peace

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the OPT

Also see

Combatants For Peace: Former Israeli and Palestinian Fighters Talk About Why Dialogue, Not War, Will Solve the Middle East Crisis

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White

Palestine is still the Issue

The Bystander Effect

November 29, 2010

Yes, I too have come across this research.

The experiment outside Liverpool Street Station is a poorly conducted experiment. Most people will think this to be a drunk, thus undeserving of help, thus measuring a different effect.

I am one of those rare individuals who does not walk on by or at least tries not to.

I recall a few years ago, early hours of the morning, in a foreign country finding a man like this, lying on the pavement, his head bashed and bloody. He was not moving, he could have been dead.

One has to be wary, it could be a scam, the person could be mad or drunk, they may leap up and grab you and stick a knife in you, or they could be ill, could have had a heart attack, a stroke or tripped and fallen. You just do not know.

I talked to the security guard of a nearby hotel and asked him to call the police. I did not hang around as it is never wise to get involved with the police, and certainly not in a foreign country.

Paulo Coelho describes, I think in Like the Flowing River, of coming to the aid of a man who everyone walked on by.

I have a reputation for helping waifs and strays, but you get no thanks, no rewards, but do get a lot of grief.

At the End of Days, Jesus is sitting in judgement, separating the sheep from the goats: Why did you not help me when I asked for water? But you never asked. I was the beggar you turned away.

There are always those who are less fortunate than ourselves, but sadly most people walk away, they do not want to be involved.

It is not just as individuals, it is also as a society. The savage welfare cuts taking place in England are hitting the poor and disadvantaged hardest, those who can least cope.

Why does the world sit silently by whilst Israel practices ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians? In Iraq Christians are being slaughtered, and yet the churches in the West are silent.

Few heed the tale of the Good Samaritan. They may pay lip service, but when it comes to action, deeds not words, as we saw with the Good Samaritan, nearly everyone walks on by.

Few are like Canon Andrew White (aka the Vicar of Baghdad) who works tirelessly helping the people of Iraq and the Middle East.

Awkward Questions about Jesus

November 29, 2010

Christingle at St Mark’s

November 29, 2010
Christingle at St Mark's

Christingle at St Mark's

A very moving Christingle service conducted by the children from St Mark’s Primary School.

I walked into St Mark’s Church and it was packed, packed with children. Is it normally this busy I asked, no I was told, but this is a special service for the children.

The rector Ian Hedges introduced the service, spoke of the wonderful time we had the previous night with GK’s Funky People, the market the day before, explained that Christingle would normally take place on Christmas Eve, but that it had been brought forward to be part of the four day Christmas Tree Festival and was it not marvellous for it to take place in amongst the trees.

He then handed it over to the children. I could not believe how professional they were, the entire service, they even controlled the sound system. And this was under-11s!

The children explained what Christingle was, explained each part of the symbolism, the orange represented the planet, the red ribbon tied around the orange the blood of Christ, the things they stuck in the orange the fruits of the earth, the points of the compass, traditionally they would have used goose quills, but they made do with cocktail sticks, the candle affixed to the top of the orange the light Jesus shone into the world. The rector then explained lighting of the candles and the precautions to be taken.

The children each then were given a Christingle, the candles were lit, and the lights turned off.

The rector summed up. He said how we take the planet for granted, the fruits of the planet, its seasons. What struck me was how Gaia-centric. [see Christian Theology and Gaia]

The school should be very proud of how the children conducted themselves, the parents proud too.

Christingle has its origins in the Moravian Church. At Christmas 1747, Germany, Bishop Johannes de Watteville thought about how he could explain the love of Jesus to everyone, and what Christmas really meant to the children in the church. He decided to make a simple symbol to express the message of Christmas in a fresh and lively way. Pastor Johannes de Watteville gave each child a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon, with a prayer that said “Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these dear children’s hearts”. This was the first Christingle service.

in 1968, John Pensom of The Children’s Society introduced Christingle services to the Anglican Church, where the custom spread quickly.

Christingle means quite literally Christ-light.

As our thoughts turn to Christmas and Bethlehem, please look to Bethlehem today, an open-air prison encircled by an Apartheid wall. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

The next joint production at St Mark’s will be a Victorian Christmas Carol Concert to celebrate 130 years of St Mark’s. 6-30pm Sunday 15 December 2010. Admission Adult £3, non-St Mark’s School Child £1.

Also see

Mary Margaret tells the story of Jonah

GK’s Funky People at St Mark’s

November 28, 2010
GK's Funky People at St Mark's

GK's Funky People at St Mark's

A church turned into a nightclub for the night! What is the world coming to?

I was at a party in a church once. It was after the Anarchist Book Fair. It was I have to admit quite good fun. An abandoned church had been taken over by squatters and turned into an autonomous community space. [see Anarchist Bookfair 2004]

But that was not quite what was happening at St Mark’s. As part of their Christmas Tree Festival it was for one night only to be turned into a nightclub with live music.

For those who are appalled and think this is an immoral use of a church, they lack any understanding of the charismatic leader of their faith and I would suggest they read The Jesus I never Knew by Philip Yancey.

Jesus was a human being. He got angry, he laughed, he cried, he was at times a bit rough around the edges. And he loved a party. His very first miracle was to turn water into wine. He saw a party was running out of steam as the wine was running out and he came to the rescue.

But what of turning the money tables over and driving the traders out of the Temple? That was because of improper use. The money changers were blatantly ripping people off.

Yes, there are improper and immoral uses of churches. There is the scandal of Israeli so-called Peace Oil on sale in St Mary’s in Guildford. It is being sold on a deception, with people being deliberately mislead into believing they are making an ethical purchase. The rector is aware but he is more interested in the pieces of silver from Card Aid who are making use of the church than in taking a moral stand. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

But ethical issues to one side, what of the evening?

GK’s Funky People were fantastic. Anyone who was not there missed out on a very good evening. A seven-piece Jazz-Rock-Funk-Blues-Soul Band – bass guitar, rhythm guitar, percussion, drums, two on sax and a female vocalist (who blew a few notes on a sax). They rocked the church and had them rocking in the aisles.

Midway a break for a buffet and well done those excellent workers who prepared the food as it was very enjoyable. In the other corner a bar.

Many thanks to Ian Hedges the rector for organising such an enjoyable evening.

My only regret my lovely friend Sian could not come as she would have loved the evening.

The money raised from the Christmas Tree Festival will go to the repair fund as the roof is leaking.

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